Investigation into Maples tragedy to begin next week

·3 min read

The province announced Friday that investigator Dr. Lynn Stevenson, a former deputy minister of health with the Province of British Columbia, will review what took place at the Maples Long Term Care facility in Winnipeg.

Stevenson, who conducted a similar investigation into a long-term care facility in Halifax for the Government of Nova Scotia in late summer, will begin as early as next week.

One week ago Friday, paramedics were called to Maples and found what has been described as a nightmare. Eight residents died over a 48-hour period. Paramedics provided hydration, transport to hospital and other services for residents.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Health Minister Cameron Friesen said that he has since directed the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WHA) to enhance its monitoring of the operator of the facility, Revera.

“I can report that the WHA now has staff on-site at Maples directly overseeing the management of care at that facility. As a result of that increased level of scrutiny, new information on staffing also emerged that was deeply troubling,” Friesen said.

“We have enacted that paramedic rapid response team that is providing around the clock quick assessment and treatments of residents at this facility and other facilities and immediate measure by which we can enhance the care that is taking place when the signal is given that enhancement is necessary.”

Additionally, the Red Cross will be at the site. The first Red Cross workers will be at Maples beginning today. They will provide redirection, observation, companionship to residents, and much-needed relief to health care workers, who have been on site since the beginning of the outbreak.

Friesen said those workers are exhausted, and need the help.

“We welcome those workers (Red Cross), and we think hard, as well, at the same time, about additional steps that must be taken to enhance workforce,” he said.

There are 25 outbreaks of COVID-19 at personal care homes in Winnipeg. According to the Prairie Mountain Health website, there are no outbreaks in this region at personal care homes.

Stevenson will conduct a preliminary review, and she will present a preliminary set of recommendations within weeks, sometime in December. A final report is due in January.

“This specific timeline will ensure that timely and immediate action can be taken to address the situation in Winnipeg and in Manitoba in respect of COVID-19, and its impact on long term care,” Friesen said.

Stevenson and her team will establish what happened at Maples, determine what can be done in future, as well as assess what is being done now, Friesen said.

The objective is to strengthen care for residents in long-term care facilities.

Asked about care homes in the Prairie Mountain Health region, including those in rural areas outside Brandon, and the implications of current efforts for those, Friesen said the province will be fanning out, not just within Winnipeg, but across the province to stabilize and to assess the situation.

“What we’re seeking to do, both out of this examination that will take place, this review, but also out of this immediate set of actions, is to undertake a … Not an inspection per se, but a solicitation from a variety of long term care providers,” Friesen said.

“In other words, we’re going through the regions to those who operate personal care homes, and then say, ‘How are things going over there? Are you seeing similar conditions? How are you fixed for workforce at this point in time? How many outbreaks do you have? What do you have on-site that you could marshal additional resources to?’”

Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun